A very brief overview of the roots and a little bit about what we should do about it.
The rightwing's war against liberal values and general progress has been around for a long time and there are doubtlessly several point at which one could say there was a 'starting point, but I think it really congealed in 1971 the form of a memo from an angry corporate lawyer to the the Chamber of Commerce and exploded afterwards.
By 1980 a very ugly conservative rightwing movement became entrenched in power in America, the one which has systematically ruined this country, stealing from the common man, transferring to the obscenely rich, and has culminated in the current economic hardships we've experienced the last few years.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the white socio-political spectrum, the rise of racist militias and white supremacist groups was seen, much of their values seemingly reflected in a fictional book series written by a white supremacist under a false name.
These seemingly disparate groups have, over the years, grown into some significant overlap in terms of values and perspectives, and which are also reflected in and encouraged by the Republican Party.
I think that there is no really good reason that 2011 should NOT be the Year that Liberals roared back at the war Conservatism has declared on us.
Those persons who might be interested in reclaiming and advancing Liberal ideas & Values should consider approaching the dissemination of said Liberal Ideas and Ideals much more aggressively and loudly this year and in the run-up to 2012.
And, instead of responding to the latest ghastly comment du jour from Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh,I want to suggest that interested parties read (or re-read) the Powell Manifesto as well as review the essense and impact of the Turner Diaries.
These 2 different writings provide for a broad overview of what's been going on for the last 40 years, and what's going on right now in terms of the current values we see being manifested on the right: racism and white supremacy, a long-term, systematic attack on all liberal values, the denigration of the term 'liberal' - you know what I am talking about.
These people declared war on you and me years and years ago.
The Powell Manifesto
The Powell Memo or Manifesto is a piece of writing that appeared in 1971.,
Watergate was going on, the Vietnam War was very unpopular with students, the Hippie Movement was still in full swing. Young people were protesting, there was fighting with cops in the streets. The Early 70's.
In quite dated language the Powell Memo scapegoats "communists" and I did a quick word count: 'liberal' occurs in that piece 11 times.Communism and Marxism also figure prominently. The conflation of 'liberal' with commie' may have pre-dated this in practice, but here it is more or less spelled out.
The Memo is largely responsible for coagulating the rightwing ideas and values about freedom of speech and assembly and all the other aspects of our freedom as set forth in the Constitution, and the hatred of anti-war protests, 'hippies', and liberals. The right has not evolved past this hippie=commie/socialist/nazi bit.
The efforts of people opposing the war, trying to hold businesses accountable for all manner of pollution and community-harming activities are equated with a communist plot to destroy America. The language is that of being under violent attack with frequent references to such: the word attack appears 19 times, at least.
It rails on Ralph Nader, bemoans the attack on corporate power, has suggestions for CEO and the Chamber of Commerce to team up against this threat to the Free Enterprise system; rails on the "Campuses' which are cesspools of intellectual liberal thought; warns about the Civil Rights Movement's focus on 'fairness'.
From the Powell link above
The threat to the enterprise system is not merely a matter of economics. It also is a threat to individual freedom.
It is this great truth -- now so submerged by the rhetoric of the New Left and of many liberals -- that must be re-affirmed if this program is to be meaningful.
There seems to be little awareness that the only alternatives to free enterprise are varying degrees of bureaucratic regulation of individual freedom -- ranging from that under moderate socialism to the iron heel of the leftist or rightist dictatorship.
We in America already have moved very far indeed toward some aspects of state socialism, as the needs and complexities of a vast urban society require types of regulation and control that were quite unnecessary in earlier times. In some areas, such regulation and control already have seriously impaired the freedom of both business and labor, and indeed of the public generally. But most of the essential freedoms remain: private ownership, private profit, labor unions, collective bargaining, consumer choice, and a market economy in which competition largely determines price, quality and variety of the goods and services provided the consumer.
In addition to the ideological attack on the system itself (discussed in this memorandum), its essentials also are threatened by inequitable taxation, and -- more recently -- by an inflation which has seemed uncontrollable.14 But whatever the causes of diminishing economic freedom may be, the truth is that freedom as a concept is indivisible. As the experience of the socialist and totalitarian states demonstrates, the contraction and denial of economic freedom is followed inevitably by governmental restrictions on other cherished rights. It is this message, above all others, that must be carried home to the American people.
It's a fairly lengthy little rant but as you review it you will doubtlessly see the Ancestor of FOX News and rightwing radio. It's pretty complete.
Our ideas as liberals are simply smashed daily - hourly - in the Conservative Media.
Half the people we want our ideas to reach don't read on the internet and aren't necessarily right or left leaning (though I usually think of those people as tentatively right).
Since the Powell Memo, Reagan was swept into office, like so much dirt. Rush Limbaugh and the Rightwing Radio network launched their non-stop denigration and smearing of the term liberal, policies were enacted that have led EXACTLY to where we are right now in socio-economic terms. Sure Bush was the midwife, but this economic meltdown along with the massive chasm between rich and poor in this country is End-Stage Reaganomics.
I have this suggestion: instead of listening to FOX and Rush and Sean under the guise of "we must deal with their lies" we should be dealing with the root of those lies, wasting less time refuting them, and spending all our time and every bit of media access we can get catapulting OUR ideas, our ideals and making every attempt to talk about them when we have the chance.
Unless, of course, it is to directly smear them with the facts of their actions.
Smear them as racists, White Supremacists, Antisemites, and flat-out potentially-dangerous kooks.
Which leads me to.....
The Turner Diaries
Just 7 years after the Powell Memo came out the Turner Diaries appeared.
From the link above:
The Turner Diaries is a novel written in 1978 by William Luther Pierce (former leader of the white nationalist organization National Alliance) under the pseudonym "Andrew Macdonald". The Turner Diaries depicts a violent revolution in the United States which leads to the overthrow of the United States federal government, nuclear war, and, ultimately, to a race war leading to the extermination of all Jews and non-whites. The book was called "explicitly racist and anti-Semitic" by The New York Times and has been labeled the "bible of the racist right" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The novel has been associated with a number of real-life violent crimes. Most notably, some have suggested that a scene depicting preparation for the bombing of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the FBI national headquarters, served as the inspiration for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 by Timothy McVeigh, who had promoted the book.
I grew up in an Air Force family, on military bases or near them until I was about 14. Racially integrated, I had all sorts of non-white friends.
Then we moved to an all-white town in Northern Indiana, why, I don't know. A nowhere little town overrun by hillbillies where my dad started a couple businesses and scraped out a living for us after retiring from the Air Force.
When I was 15 I discovered I was part of the Master Race. Some 'tracts" were distributed one day into the laundromat my dad opened. They had images of the Minutemen on them and talked about how White people are the Chosen and the pinnacle of mankind. All other races are impure and lower.
This racist/survivalist thinking was rife in the town I lived in and when Deliverance came out they were all untethered about owning 4 wheel drives and compound bows.
These folks are all over America, concentrated in some places, but spread everywhere.
At this point in time, they have been utterly captured and enslaved by the rightwing media and it these folks in particular that the Limbaughs. and the Becks, and the Hannity's target with their stochastic terrorism.
A bit more on the history of the Diaries
The Turner Diaries was first serialized in the mid 1970s in the National Alliance's tabloid paper, Attack!. The first printing in paperback was May 1978. Pierce originally set his story in the 1980s. Its reprinting (September 1980) took the form of a slightly altered second edition that moved the setting forward ten years. Although subsequent printings of The Turner Diaries have featured different cover art or back cover copy, they have kept to the second edition's text.
In keeping with the new 1990s time frame, events in the past are generally aged by ten years, though not always. Some examples:
Turner's diatribe about the "long string of Marxist acts of terror 10 to 15 years ago" is changed to "20 years ago."
Turner's lament at the success of the System's brainwashing "these past 50 years or so" remains unchanged.
The Order's "nearly 58 years of existence" is increased to 68, making the date of its founding 1925, a reference to the SS.
Turner's astonishment at "how many dark, kinky-haired Middle Easterners have invaded this country in the last decade" is not changed.
The epilogue's exultation that in 1989, "exactly a century after the birth of The Great One... the dream of a White world finally became a certainty", becomes "just 110 years" after Adolf Hitler's birth.
This book reflects the values of white supremacists and other lunatics, as well as are hauntingly similar to teabagger themes we have to listen to today: Antisemitism, paranoia about the government, a worship of firearms, paranoia about "Marxists", liberals, commies, and Muslims.
Long before these values were heard in Glenn Beck's ramblings, in particular, they have peppered throughout the rightwing media many times a day for the last 40 years.
Liberal has become a dirty word and only we can turn that around.
Liberalism won't be reclaimed without a fight
Again, as I said at the beginning: I think that there is no really good reason that 2011 should NOT be the Year that Liberals roared back at the current apparent surging of Conservatism.
When I say we need to act more 'aggressively', I am not talking about acts of violence, like the right does. It's just silly to suggest that this is inferred.
Besides, violence won't work: it backfires in a multitude of ways and the 'target' here is an idea, not a human being or a building.
I do, though, very much mean being a lot more forceful in tone, not letting ourselves be excessively constrained by decorum all the time: recognize there are times that the Right is banking on your polite deference to walk on you, figure those times out (it's not difficult), and DON'T be deferent.
No... now is NOT the time to tone down OUR rhetoric - now is the time to escalate it; to amplify it, to make it louder and say it prouder.
I think too often there is this idea that liberals are supposed to be dainty bleeding hearts wailing and writing poetry about every bug that dies. That's gotta change.
WE have the good ideas.
America actually wants them but doesn't know it because all they have ever heard is rightwing propaganda.
We must aggressively catapult OUR ideas without remorse.
Without apology or much explanation outside of an accurate description of them: Never, ever, ever apologize for your views, beliefs or perspectives.
We should begin to avoid detailed 'debates' with wingnuts - there's little value in converting them one by one. Once you realize you're arguing with one of these folks, let it go.
I know some will cling to that strategy forever, so at least be a bit more pushy with your rhetoric. Polite recitations of the known facts do nothing to address those sorts of people with the values so deeply ingrained. We need 55% on election day - we don't unanimity.
Be blunter, less nuanced when possible.
Be pushy. You don't have to be obnoxious, like I often am, but it's not really going to hurt.
The goal is A - to get OUR ideas across and B)to agitate THEM; Put THEM on the defensive.
At this point there is little else to lose and quite a bit to gain in this pivotal time running up to 2012.
I'd hate to lose more because we insisted on extending our pinky finger whilst sipping our lattés....